Coloradans for Energy Access and Denver Pipefitters Site Tour Shows Colorado is a Leader in Natural Gas Innovation

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(November 04, 2022)

Technological innovations in natural gas are playing a key role in the energy transition, leading Colorado labor and business groups said during a site tour and panel discussion on Wednesday in Denver.

The event, sponsored by leaders of Coloradans for Energy Access and Denver Pipefitters Local 208 Business Manager Gary Arnold, provided a firsthand view for coalition members and other business and community leaders to understand how natural gas heating and boiler systems keeps costs low for consumers, complements electric systems, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Local 208’s training facility includes mockups of a variety of heating and cooling systems, from in-floor radiant heating, using natural gas-powered boilers and both air and ground sourced heat pumps, as well as well as labs and classrooms where students learn how to troubleshoot and repair these systems. On the tour, attendees learned how these systems operate in different ways and their various efficiency advantages.

After the tour, Arnold moderated a panel discussion with Scott Hutchings, Director of Government Affairs for WM, Shawn Martini, Vice President of Advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau, and Sara Blackhurst, CEO of Action 22. During their discussion, the panelists explained the importance of continued access to natural gas, highlighted the critical role that innovation is playing in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and discussed the many ways in which natural gas helps Colorado’s economy and consumers.

Natural gas is driving Colorado energy innovation.

Sara Blackhurst, Action 22: “Colorado is perfectly positioned and is entirely capable of being the leader on the technologies that drive cleaner energy. We collectively need to be supportive of natural gas in all of its forms and anything that will make it cleaner. As far as innovation, all we can do is yell it from the rooftops about the innovations that are happening in the state, and then challenge ourselves and each other to really pursue those innovative technologies that would be the model for the entire nation on all fronts. At Action 22, that’s what we want to do.”

Gary Arnold, Denver Pipefitters Local 208: “Blue hydrogen is extremely promising, especially if you can partner with carbon capture sequestration technologies to really produce scalable energy sources that will maintain a price point that doesn’t put consumers in a position where they’re trying to decide between taking care of their kids or their family’s needs versus paying their utility bills and their access to energy.”

Shawn Martini, Colorado Farm Bureau: “Agriculture is typically a fairly energy intensive industry and more highly mechanized. A lot of transportation that goes into the production of food and fuel, but we also produce a lot of energy as well. A significant percentage of the oil and gas in Colorado was made on land owned by farmers and ranchers and large landowners across the state, and we also produce a considerable number of biofuels. We’re increasingly looking at the renewable natural gas side and recovered methane as a way to tap what’s typically a byproduct to deal with the methane derived from livestock operations and being able to use that as an additional revenue stream for our producers.”

Scott Hutchings, WM: “The fact that we’re running over 90 percent of our fleet on Compressed Natural Gas not only makes them quieter but much cleaner. And it’s all about greenhouse gas emissions. I spend a lot of time with my friends at FedEx and UPS and all our vehicles start and stop all day long which makes them large emitters of greenhouse gases. When you convert them to CNG, that’s for the health of the customers we serve. Compressed Natural Gas is not only a domestic fuel it is an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it’s so much better than diesel.”

Natural gas is keeping energy affordable for Colorado residents.

Sara Blackhurst, Action 22: “The reason that we’re in this fight in the way that we are is really because of the end users and how it affects them not only in their pocketbook, but also in their jobs and their ability to create wealth for themselves. Energy tends to be the best jobs especially in our region. The median household income for the Action 22 footprint is $47,000 a year. Any innovation that adds options, that adds the ability to be cleaner, to be healthier, but also to have energy security, especially when you’re talking about Colorado winters, that’s wildly important. Any innovation that we can support is going to benefit the end user in all of those ways.”

Natural gas is a critical energy option for households and businesses.

Gary Arnold, Denver Pipefitters Local 208: “Why would you want to cross things off the list? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. We train on every kind of equipment out there. For our HVAC service technicians, they’re going to install and service whatever system the customer wants and whatever fits their needs. We like to have that option, a diversified list of options.”

Scott Hutchings, WM: “We have the largest heavy duty Compressed Natural Gas fleet, and we also operate the most landfills of anybody in the country. We are focused on reduction of methane and one way we can do that is through Renewable Natural Gas that comes out of landfills. We have developed a closed loop system in California where we are actually able to power 600 trash trucks a day off of the methane in a closed loop system.

Coloradans for Energy Access is a broad coalition of businesses, organizations, utilities, and workforce leaders that support access to natural gas in homes and businesses. Wednesday’s site tour and panel discussion at Denver Pipefitters Local 208 had nearly 40 attendees backing innovative natural gas technologies that are helping Colorado meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals while keeping energy costs low.